Man of Steel has almost no redeeming features as a movie. It may, in fact, be the worst action movie I’ve
ever seen. The fight sequences were supersonic car crashes with the opponents
rushing headlong at each other and knocking one another down repeatedly. And
they moved too fast for a viewer to follow the presumed action; all we see is
visual representations of a high wind. After a dozen or so of these head-on
collisions, ennui sets in pretty numbingly.
Some relief from the noise of the
crashes is afforded in several nearly endless expanses of exposition. For an
action movie, there were far too many extreme close-ups; we don’t need to count
the hairs of Superman’s eyebrows. Apart from the wholesale destruction being
wreaked on the cityscape during fights, we were also treated to unremitting sequences
of slow moving — but menacing — space craft that looked like metallic crabs or sea
turtles or hovering jelly fish, sequences punctuated by belching firey
explosions of the highest decibels.
actor Henry Cavill is adequately stalwart and muscled heavily enough for the
Superman role. The Superman’s chain-maily sort of costume is the best thing in
the movie, but the cape is too long. Alas, Amy Adams is wrong for the part of
Lois Lane: instead of a hard-charging reporter, we have a prom queen.
Clark fall in love and, at the end of the movie, they kiss. This development
severely alters the Superman mythology, in particular the love triangle that
has animated the comic books for 75 years — Lois loves Superman but disdains
Clark Kent, not realizing that the two are one and the same. I can’t imagine
how DC consented to the violence this development does to the enduring psychic
appeal of the character: every pimply-faced adolescent under the spell of the
Siegel-Shuster creation can imagine that he, like nerdy Clark Kent, is secretly
a champion. This movie blasts that fond daydream to tiny pieces of Kryptonite,
thanks to writers Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer, ably assisted by
director Scott Snyder.
scenes in the movie belong to Clark and his mother, feelingly played by Diane
Lane. They seem unabashedly fond of each other, and their obvious affection
lends their scenes emotional impact — about the only human drama around. All of
the rest of the intended drama is drowned in cliched dialogue.
movie’s most serious flaw is its relentless seriousness. The idea of a flying,
invulnerable super-powered hero is laughable on its face, but most successful
superhero movies of late have the saving grace of a self-deprecating sense of
humor. None of that here. In fact there are only two funny lines in the
two-and-a-half hour flick, and they’re both Lois’. She arrives at some frozen
outpost of scientific inquiry to report on it, and endures a typically
masculine us-guys-know-it-all-but-you-poor-deluded-female briefing, which she
finally terminates with a quip: “Now that we’ve finished measuring dicks, maybe
we can begin.”
penultimate line in the movie is hers, and it is also humorous with double
entendre. At the end of the movie, Clark decides to find a job, and he dons
specs and reports to work at the Daily
Planet, where Lois is the star reporter. When he is introduced to her, she
pretends she doesn’t know him — despite having been gaga over him for the whole
movie — stands up and shakes his hand and says: “Welcome to the Planet,” a nice play on words.
also supports what appears to be a stunning irrationality. If Clark is
invulnerable because he comes from a planet with a different atmosphere than
Earth’s, then all those Kryptonites who come looking for him with kidnaping on
their agenda are similarly invulnerable. How, then, are they all killed?
are. Some unspecified how. And Krypton’s General Zod laments their death and
vows to kill all of Clark’s earthling cohorts in revenge. Clark finally
dispatches the evil warlord by choking him to death, the only way he can be
killed if he’s otherwise invulnerable. That seems to work. But how were all the
other Kryptonites killed?
and — according to Asawin Suebsaeng at motherjones.com — “one of the most
fascinating things about this movie is how blatantly littered with product
placement it is — roughly $160 million in product placement and promotions went
into its makers' coffers. Man of Steel has over 100 global marketing partners,
surpassing Universal's 2012 animated flick The Lorax, which reportedly had 70
partners. So if you have forgotten recently to eat at IHOP or to shop at Sears,
this film will remind you to do so in big letters.”
most troubling aspect of this production for me is the flying. Advertisements
for the first Superman movie of modern times touted the flying: it was so
convincingly faked that we would know, the ads insisted, that Superman can fly.
Superman takes flight like a bullet being fired. No flapping of arms, no quick
crouch and then a jump up into the air. Nothing. Just — bang! out of the chute.
What propels him? The only thing I can think of is, well, super flatulence.
Superman farts himself into flight.
seems a suitable end for this review. (Unintended word play—but relished
Fitnoot: If you
find this sort of news and opinion refreshing in an age in which Congress’
approval rating hovers statistically around the margin of error, you’ll rejoice
to know that July is Open Access Month at RCHarvey.com where there’s lots more
of what’s hinted at here. The online magazine version of this blog, Rants &
Raves, as well as archived R&R and the entire Hindsight archive — thirteen
years of history, lore, reviews and commentary—is open to non-$ubscribers all
month in the hope that they will be so thrilled with what they find that
they’ll $ubscribe. Join the happy throng.